Economist Jagdish Bhagwati speaks to NDTV
New Delhi: With the government facing criticism over attacks on churches and Christians who say they are feeling insecure, renowned economist Jagdish Bhagwati has spoken out in the government's defence. Speaking to NDTV, he says why call them communal attacks when they could be routine crime. He also says if Christians convert non-Christians, then why can't Hindus?
Here are the top 10 quotes from Mr Bhagwati's interview to NDTV:
- I think the PM did go on, as you pointed out, to make statements like the one he has made in Kerala to reassure the Christian community. Leadership requires if some community is actually upset and worried you go ahead and reassure them because that's the only way to function in democracy. Delighted that PM went ahead and did what he did.
- Objectively speaking, I have looked at all assertions by the people you mention and particularly Julio Ribeiro, who is widely regarded and respected. When I saw now he feels (he is) on the hit list, I could not believe what I was reading.
- I thought one needs to bring some sanity into this discussion. The principle of monkey say something and monkey repeat - so if you keep repeating again and again that the Christians are under attack, then a lot of Christians will begin to believe it.
- When Mr Ribeiro says he is on a hit list and says Hindus are now doubting his Christianity, his loyalty, and actually ends his article by saying number of people came up to recognize him somewhere in Lonavala and said "Oh Mr Ribeiro", he is contradicting himself. How come people say such nice things to him if Hindus are turning against him? So, I just wanted to introduce a little contrary point of view so that we have a reasonable debate and argument.
- There are a few crazy people on the Hindu side who feel we should re-convert. How much does it amount to? Very little. I urge these Christian leaders to look into their own history of conversion... Hindus are not into conversion in any substantial way at all. I would just clarify and say look at your own history and relax a bit.
- (On RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat) There are cockeyed people everywhere. I don't think the PM or I or anybody can defend statements like that, because they are bigoted statements - like people should return to Hinduism. I'm happy to condemn it then... We cannot be responsible for every crazy statement made by somebody, no matter how influential he might be.
- (On Ghar Wapasi) Ghar Wapasi is not the way to think about modern India. I would certainly be against Ghar Wapasi. People have different religions and if people go from one religion to another and some guy will say you have to return to my religion that's what Ghar Wapasi means. To me it seems ridiculous way to think about the issue. People are free to choose their religion.
- I admire the Christian community but how many people are aware that the Catholic Church has been defending assault on young boys, right, pederast basically, so do I say that Catholics should continuously denounce that? I'm not interested in who says what. We really need to relax a bit.
- If you think you can convert, why do you object to other people saying they can convert? I don't believe in Hinduism that converts. Hinduism in my view is inclusive, not exclusive.
- It is very interesting that when Dr Ambedkar, who is one of our most revered constitutional lawyers, decided to have the Dalits change their religion, why did he not pick Islam or Christianity? He instead picked Buddhism because Buddhism is not into conversion in the way in which these two religions are.